PHOENIX SUNS

Suns’ Mat Ishbia calls for no suspension of Nuggets C Nikola Jokic

May 8, 2023, 8:18 AM | Updated: 10:08 am

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia on Monday morning went to Twitter with an attempt to put his kerfuffle with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in the rearview mirror.

Jokic earned an unsportsmanlike technical for shoving Ishbia after the owner caught a dead ball and held onto it as the Denver playmaker attempted to get a five-on-four break going the other way. Jokic’s interaction with Ishbia and others led to another fan walking up and pushing Jokic to earn an ejection from the game.

Ishbia in a tweet on Monday said that the on-court product should be the story moving forward.

“Great win for the Suns last night in an amazing series so far!” he wrote. “That should be and is the only story. Suspending or fining anyone over last (night’s) incident would not be right. I have (a lot) of respect for Jokic and don’t want to see anything like that. Excited for game 5! Go Suns!”

Jokic closed with 53 points and 11 assists, setting a record for any center by scoring or assisting on 78 of his team’s points in a playoff game.

It wasn’t enough in the 129-124 loss for Denver that brought the Western Conference semifinals series even, 2-2.

The Denver center after the game defended his actions, saying he shoved the owner after feeling as if he was touched first.

Jokic and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone were not entertaining the possibility of Jokic being fined or suspended. They were surprised he even earned an unsportsmanlike technical as a result of the play.

“(A referee) told me I was elbowing the fan, but the fan put his hands on me first. I thought the league is supposed to protect us. But maybe I’m wrong,” Jokic said.

Ishbia has only been the Suns’ owner for a few months, purchasing the team from the embattled Robert Sarver.

Ishbia told The Associated Press at halftime that he was “fine” and more worried about the game than the altercation. He was back in his usual seat in the second half.

Game 5 of Suns-Nuggets in Denver tips at 7 p.m. Tuesday on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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